Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by Evanturetime, Joshua Simon, KaySha, Hyu, BOYINSPACE, Foxela, Haziman, Charlene Su and Baby Combat.
Evanturetime – ‘You feat. Tim De Cotta and Vandetta’
In some sectors of music, the belief that art should strive for transcendence still prevails – thankfully. This song is one of them.
‘You’ was made by a trinity of some of contemporary Singaporean music’s most essential treasures. That’s why the way the principle of its cosmos – pop music’s narrative foundation stone: “I Love You” – is articulated is different from most other songs with the same aim and thrust. The going is hyper-lush, beat-y, soul-hop, which is the perfect canvas over which eyes-closed, arms-raised truths can unspool. So when De Cotta raps, “You my one and you my only girl” and regards that fact as a heavenly mandate, and when Vanessa coos, “There was no way I could fight / The truth that we were meant to be”, that sincerity and musical generosity blooms in your consciousness with a spiritual sumptuousness. Crying or smiling to a song like this is one and the same.
Foxela – ‘As You Do’
The young and gifted producer Foxela has returned with yet another great dance track. ‘As You Do’ makes for great festival fodder. With festival season rapidly approaching, don’t be surprised if you hear this track getting played at the likes of Ultra Singapore or even this weekend’s Skechers Sundown Festival. The build-up to the track features female vocals that get listeners ready for a fantastic drop, as it slowly ascends, getting faster with every passing second. By the time the drop hits, listeners will undoubtedly be battling to dance, jump and shuffle, wherever they are. It’s a feel-good track, even euphoric, at times, and gets stuck in your head so easily. It’s not hard to see the track dominating charts and clubs all over the country.
KaySha – ‘Nice’
“It pays to be kind” or “Take the high road” – That’s what most of us have heard a lot whenever we were faced with a nasty situation. For KaySha, the one that seemed to stick with her is: “Kill them with kindness”. She challenges this philosophy as she sings: “What if kindness is killing me” or “I wish I could be selfish” on, ironically, sweet-sounding melodies.
Starting off slow, rolling along with the conundrum as it reaches the chorus, the beats become faster and it’s almost reflective of that frustration of always being “too good”. Sometimes, we all need to walk on the edge the dark side in order to survive.
Joshua Simon – ‘Scream feat. REQ’
Bad boys finish first – this is the source of Joshua Simon’s seething sorrow and atomic anger. The pain that comes with the cliché being proven right is one thing; having to live with the knowledge that it’ll keep happening because it’s true brings a different kind of sting.
In his prior single ‘Drive’, Simon displayed the rat-in-a-cage anger that complemented the song’s panorama of apocalyptic sounds. But ‘Scream’ is the site of a different kind of rage. Over FAUXE’s stylised, noir-ish synths, his vocals uncoil with a self-aware sense of doom. The approach is self-consciously knowing, like the song’s most relatable lines: “I should’ve known / I brought this upon myself”. British rapper REQ is the one who strains against the maximal sounds. When he heaves, “I don’t know / I’m losing my meaning”, his helplessness is palpable. Only at its close is the track’s deeper current obvious: That pain is a teacher. May history never repeat itself – even though it always does.
Haziman – ‘GUCCI SOCKS FREESTYLE’
Haziman is back with a new trap banger, ‘GUCCI SOCKS FREESTYLE’.
The song kicks off with a catchy hook before a sample cuts in. Sure, the spoken vocals may throw you off, but it primes the listener for what comes next: A truly great verse. Call it shock value, if you want. Haziman showcases an impeccable flow, effortlessly rhyming throughout. He drops several pop culture references that can’t all be caught upon first listen, which is a great way to lure listeners to return. The production on the track features heavy use of keys and trap hi-hats and fat kicks. You may think that would lead to a simplistic sound, but it’s far from that. As importantly, Haziman sounds like he's having a blast.
Hyu – ‘YOU’
Standing out in the bass-heavy, synth-laden market is Hyu’s debut track ‘You’. She perfectly encapsulates the saccharine-sweet tingles attendant to love in this two-and-a-half listen. It’s definitely a refreshing breath of air.
The start is a slow build-up, first introducing a buoyant synth that flutters in the mix, followed by samples of bubble pops. Hyu's delicately sweet vocals then land. It’s almost though she’s slowly guiding you into the song, slowing pulling you in by the hand. At as the bridge, she displays her violin skills with a short-but-instantly-impressive turn. Though hushed, this first showing is winkingly innovative and enigmatic. The stakes around her next transmission are certainly high.
BOYINSPACE – ‘PARANOID feat. Kalou’
In its ongoing cultural metamorphosis, hip-hop reached a point where Juice WRLD became this millennium’s Chris Carrabba. The nature of his reliably growing body of work shows the fledgling singer-rapper BOYINSPACE immersing himself in one of the more popular pools of this zeitgeist.
Auto-Tuned, lachrymose and languid, ‘PARANOID’ bears heartbreaking declarations such as “I got this all wrong” and “It’s all my fault”. The fatalism is powerful, emotive and defining. As it did in the best emo songs in the canon, it bequeaths upon the song and singer(s) an epic measure of theatricality and drama. When Kalou sings of the walls closing in and of the simple-but-impossible desire for sleep, the suffocating paranoia, that is the source of the song’s existence, feels all the more sinister and real.
Baby Combat – ‘I Could Hurt You’
Baby Combat’s fourth single of 2019, ‘I Could Hurt You’ sees the indie rock artist at his most vulnerable.
By far his most stripped-down track to date, ‘I Could Hurt You’ is led by his smooth, boyish vocals and emphatic twangs that split the difference between grunge and alt-country. Before long, a kick drum joins the mix, with muted thumps, before the instrumentation builds up. If you think the track ends rather abruptly, know that it's a strategic choice. It leaves listeners wanting more – and that’s the mark of a great song.
Charlene Su – ‘Home With You’
It’s always a magical feeling when that crush gets requited. What Charlene offers in her debut single is her perspective of that unforgettable experience. She sings, with airy, delicate control, that isn't without its sensual charms, of the subtle beckoning: “Baby just let me go home with you”.
But it’s not a frivolous thought. As she increases her intensity further into the track, it’s with resounding confidence that she knows what she wants and that she’s going to get it. By the end, we’re all rooting for her and thinking about ourselves. Because that’s what we want, too.